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What Is Nylon Thread?

Bonded nylon is partcularly strong and often used in parachutes.
Nylon thread.
Exercise pants made with nylon thread.
From the mid '60s to the mid '90s, nylon pantyhose were a basic staple of the female wardrobe.
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  • Written By: Meagan Michi
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 18 August 2014
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Nylon thread is one of many types of thread that are available for use with home sewing machines, as well as in industrial applications. Also commonly referred to as polyamide, nylon is a synthetic fiber that first became popular in homes across the United States in 1940 when nylon pantyhose were introduced. Since that time, nylon has been widely used, both as both a thread and as a fabric. When compared to other types of thread, nylon is appreciated because it is extremely strong and flexible. This is important because a sewn seam should be stronger than the material that is being sewn in order to ensure the durability of the finished product.

There are many pros and cons of nylon thread. On the positive side, synthetic thread made of nylon is stronger than other fibers, most notably cotton. The durability of thread is especially important with high-speed sewing machines that draw thread quickly through material with a needle, which can weaken it by breaking the individual filaments. Additionally, nylon thread is lightweight, smooth and does not absorb liquid, which is especially important for clothing applications where underarm seams are prone to weakening because of perspiration.

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There are some negative issues with nylon thread, because it tends to get brittle and turn yellow over time. When used for seams on clothing, this issue is likely not a problem because of the overall short lifespan of clothing and the fact that seams are hidden on the inside of a garment. Nylon thread melts when exposed to the high heat of a clothing iron. To avoid fused seams, users should be sure to iron items with a low-temperature iron and with the correct side out, rather than inside out.

There are many uses for nylon thread in its various forms, such as in the production of clothing, luggage, draperies and purses. Woolly nylon is a type of thread that is commonly used for rolled hems on knits, as well as in producing stretchy seams on bathing suits, dance costumes and activewear. Bonded nylon is exceptionally strong and is commonly used for heavy-duty sewing such as in the production of sporting goods, parachutes and shoes. Upholstery nylon thread is specifically made to withstand the rigors of use that is common with furniture. Transparent nylon thread is translucent, and it is commonly used to topstitch quilts, comforters and shams.

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